Sharks

The key to Joe Thornton's recent scoring surge

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AP

The key to Joe Thornton's recent scoring surge

Last season was the first time since his rookie year that Joe Thornton scored less than ten goals in an 82-game season. 

It was no coincidence that his 1.03 shots per game were his lowest since his first campaign, according to Hockey Reference, and that his 2.95 shots on goal per 60 minutes in five-on-five situations were his lowest since the NHL first began tracking shot attempts in 2007-08, according to Corsica Hockey.

This season, Thornton’s just three goals away from matching his total from a season ago after scoring his fourth in Tuesday night’s win over the Philadelphia Flyers. He’s now scored two goals in his last four games, after scoring the same amount in his previous 19. 

That mark ties him with linemate Joe Pavelski, and fellow member of the over-35 club Joel Ward, for fifth on the team. How’s Thornton managed to do it? 

Simply put, he’s shooting the puck more.

Much to the delight of Sharks fans that have cried out for him to shoot whenever he has the puck on his stick in the offensive zone, he’s shooting a hair over two more shots every 60 minutes of five-on-five play (5.05 iSF/60, per Corsica) than he did last year. Across all situations, he’s shooting nearly half-a-shot more per game than last year (1.49, per Hockey Reference).

The former matches his rate from 2014-15, and is the fourth-highest Thornton’s posted since 2007-08. The latter is more than Thornton’s managed in all but one of the last five seasons (2014-15; 1.68).

Thornton’s always had a good shot. Of the players that have played 200 games since Thornton entered the league, his shooting percentage (13.9 percent) is tied for 81st, ahead of players far more known for goal-scoring such as Patrick Marleau (13.4), Corey Perry (13.1), and even Pavelski (12.0). 

Those differences are miniscule, but still speak well of Thornton’s shooting ability. He’s actually shooting below his career average this season (11.4 percent), and a bit more regression to the mean would ensure Thornton surpasses the 15-goal mark, as he’s done in all but three full NHL seasons. 

The Sharks have continued to put the 38-year-old in positions to succeed coming off of significant knee injuries last spring, but his age and those injuries make his shooting turnaround all the more impressive.

Sharks hang on to beat Blues and open road trip with win

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USATSI

Sharks hang on to beat Blues and open road trip with win

BOX SCORE

ST. LOUIS -- Logan Couture and Mikkel Boedker each had a goal and an assist, sending the San Jose Sharks to a 3-2 victory over the slumping St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night.

Joonas Donskoi also scored and Martin Jones made 30 saves for San Jose, which has won five of its last six games.

Ivan Barbashev and Vladimir Tarasenko had the goals for the Blues, who have lost a season-high four straight.

After a scoreless first period, the teams combined for five goals in the second.

San Jose took a 1-0 lead when Couture knocked in a loose puck at 6:35. Boedker fired in a shot from the point that goalie Carter Hutton blocked but couldn't corral. Couture was on the spot and scored his 24th of the season.

St. Louis answered at 8:23 when Barbashev scored on a wrist shot from the top of the right circle that sailed over Jones' arm.

Donskoi beat Hutton on a wrist shot from the left circle at 12:05. Couture assisted on Donskoi's first goal in 17 games.

Boedker gave San Jose a 3-1 lead at 15:54 when he scored from the left side of the net. Boedker has five goals in his last four games.

Tarasenko cut the margin to 3-2 on a power play when he fired in the rebound of a shot by Vince Dunn at 19:36 for his 24th of the season. Tarasenko has 10 points in his last nine games (four goals, six assists) against the Sharks.

San Jose's Brent Burns prevented a goal with less than five minutes left. During a scramble in front of the net, the puck hit the post and was sliding along the goal line when Burns knocked it out.

This was the first meeting between St. Louis and San Jose this season. The Blues swept the three-game season series last year, outscoring the Sharks 11-3 overall, and had won four straight against the Sharks.

Hutton made his second start in the last five games and stopped 20 shots. Previously against the Sharks, he was 4-0-1 with a 0.98 goals-against average, a .968 save percentage and two shutouts in five career starts.

NOTES: The Sharks acquired C Eric Fehr from Toronto for a seventh-round pick in the 2020 draft. ... Blues C Vladimir Sobotka was out of the lineup with an illness. It was the first game he has missed this season. ... The Blues have recalled forward Sammy Blais from the AHL for the fourth time this season. Blais, who leads the San Antonio Rampage with 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists), last played for St. Louis on Dec. 16, when he got hurt against Winnipeg. ... San Jose forward Tomas Hertl missed another game with an upper-body injury.

UP NEXT

Sharks: At the Nashville Predators on Thursday.

Blues: Host the Winnipeg Jets on Friday.

Sharks pick up first win of homestand as Burns moves back to blueline

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AP

Sharks pick up first win of homestand as Burns moves back to blueline

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE --Brent Burns and Chris Tierney each had a goal and an assist, and the San Jose Sharks beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 on Thursday for their third win in four games.

Mikkel Boedker and Marcus Sorensen also scored for the Sharks, who improved to 3-0-1 against the Canucks this season. Martin Jones stopped 29 shots.

Daniel Sedin scored for the Canucks, who lost their sixth in seven games. Anders Nilsson made 40 stops.

Boedker scored at 8:41 of the first period, picking up a soft rebound from Tierney's shot.

Burns scored his 10th goal, tops among NHL defensemen, taking a pass from Joakim Ryan and sending a laser shot into the net just under five minutes into the second.

Sorensen scored his first goal since Dec. 23, punching it in with an assist from Justin Braun at 3:06 into the third. Marc-Edouard Vlasic had an assist in his third straight game, getting the second assist on Sorensen's goal.

Sedin scored at 6:43, taking a nice pass from Thomas Vanek that gave him clear shot into the net. It was Sedin's 14th goal, one shy of his total last season.

Tierney made it 4-1 after taking a nice pass from Burns with 7 1/2 minutes remaining.

NOTES:Tim Heed was recalled from the AHL and joined a makeshift Sharks lineup, allowing Burns to play up front at times. ... Sharks C Logan Couture has points in four of his last five games. ... Boedker recorded games in consecutive games for the second time this season, and the first since Jan. 15-16. ... Sedin has five points against the Sharks this season and 45 in 69 games. He's recorded points in three straight.

UP NEXT

Canucks: Host Boston on Saturday.

Sharks: Host Dallas on Sunday.